After 46 seasons, Sesame Street is finally introducing an autistic character for its 47th. The puppet, named Julia, has appeared in Street books and the app, but she will not make her television debut until this April.
Julia is part of the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”campaign by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education organization backing Street. The organization paired with experts in the autism community to make Julia a truly accurate portrayal of a child on the autism spectrum and to lessen the stigma of autism seen in children and adults.
Recently, the media has been trying to portray diverse characters from all walks of life, especially in children’s programs. This is wonderful because it helps children learn from a young age how to be accepting of people who are different from them, and it can teach their parents as well.
Not only that, but when kids see themselves represented in their favorite movies, shows, and books it helps them accept themselves, especially if they are somewhat different and don’t necessarily fit in with other children. So, Julia coming to Sesame Street, during Autism Awareness Month no less, is one of the best things that can happen.
According to Autism Speaks, a 2015 government study says that 1 in 45 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Since Sesame Street is one of those shows that everyone grows up on, no doubt there are plenty of autistic children who watch the show now; with Julia, they’ll finally see themselves represented.
And those children who aren’t autistic that watch the show will be introduced to a new character with a disorder that one of their friends or future friends may have. Having been introduced to the kind of behavior a child with autism exhibits, they’ll likely have no problem accepting autistic children; as opposed to the stigma there is about them today.
Hopefully, Julia will help us stop thinking of autism as something so bad that it’s an insult, and instead show us that there is amazing in all children.